The Upper Division Writing Requirement

Effective in the fall of 2007, NDSU began to require incoming and transfer students to take upper division writing courses to complete the Category C, Communications, General Education credits. These courses are open to all students, however, regardless of when they entered or transferred into NDSU. 

Students must have junior standing (at least 60 cumulative credits) to take a 300-level writing class. The reasons for this requirement include: 

  • students benefit from having writing classes staggered over their university career, rather than taking them too early in their academic career.
  • 300 level writing courses assume disciplinary knowledge on the part of the students, and will require discipline specific research and writing.
  • 300 level classes prepare students for the workplace and / or graduate school, and therefore are more relevant to students who are further along in their studies. 

Course Outcomes

Each course in the upper-division writing curriculum is different, but they all emphasize the same two General Education Outcomes:


1.     Communication Learning Outcome:
        Students will use a variety of modes, particularly written, oral, artistic, and visual to
a.     effectively communicate analysis, knowledge, understanding, expression and/or conclusions,
b.     skillfully use high-quality, credible, relevant sources,
c.     demonstrate appropriate conventions in a variety of communication situations,
d.     demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences in a variety of contexts. 

Each course will also emphasize the following English department goal: 

  • Students will learn to manage sophisticated writing and research projects, planning, documenting, completing, and assessing work on time and within the constraints of the project.

All students in upper-division writing courses will be asked to produce a portfolio of work by the end of the semester, with at least 3 distinct genres, a reflective cover letter, and approximately 18 pages of finished text (allowances made for design features).  

Courses approved for general education requirements

Each degree program designates one or more specific UDW courses to count for its major. Some programs designate a course within the department that houses them. You can see a complete list by clicking here and scrolling slightly down to CATEGORY C: COMMUNICATIONS. 

Most UDW courses are offered through the Department of English. You can see sample syllabi for these courses by clicking on the links below.

English 320: Business and Professional Communication
Intensive practice employing the conventions of writing needed in professional genres and settings: writing for specific audiences and purposes. Inform, analyze, evaluate, and persuade. Prereq: ENGL 120, Junior standing.

Sample Syllabus for ENGL 320

English 321: Writing in the Technical Professions
Intensive practice employing the conventions of professional genres to write about technology development and use for expert, business, and more general audiences. Prereq: ENGL 120, Junior standing

 Sample Syllabus for ENGL 321

English 322: Writing and the Creative Process 
Exploring genres that fuel creativity and critical awareness. Emphasis on flexibility and inventiveness in realizing any personal or professional project. Products may range from poetry/fiction to blogs to student-designed assignments based on major. Prereq: ENGL 120, Junior standing.
Sample syllabus for ENGL 322

English 324: Writing in the Sciences
The study and practice in written conventions of the sciences for academic, scientific, and public audiences. Prereq: ENGL 120, Junior standing.  
Sample Syllabus for ENGL 324

English 325: Writing in the Health Professions
Study of and practice in language use and written conventions of the health professions for academic, professional, and public audiences. Prereq: Engl 120, Junior standing.  
Sample Syllabus for ENGL 325

English 326: Writing in the Design Professions
This course provides intensive practice employing the conventions of those professional genres needed to write for professional contexts and audiences in design fields. 
Sample syllabus for Engl 326 

English 357: Visual Culture and Language
This course covers the rise of visual culture and the impact this historical shift has made on print culture and writing. Students produce information graphics, photo essays, videos, and other genres. Prereq: ENGL 120, Junior standing. 
 Sample syllabus for ENGL 357 

English 358: Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences 
Theory and practice for writing multiple genres in the humanities and social sciences. Prereq: ENGL 120, Junior standing.
Sample syllabus for ENGL 358 

English 459-659: Researching and Writing Grants and Proposals 
A rhetorical approach to researching and writing academic grants, business proposals, and related professional documents. Students develop a portfolio of professionally designed and edited documents as well as the vocabulary of grants writing and research. Prereq: Engl 120, Junior standing.

Sample syllabus for ENGL 459-659

The Center for Writers and the English department will assist other departments that wish to create their own upper division writing course. Such discipline-specific courses will qualify for upper division writing credit in Communication Category C if they are approved for general education credit and open to all students.

For more information about upper division writing courses, contact the Director of Upper Division Writing, Dr. Bruce Maylath (Tel: 701-231-7176). Those looking for assistance with undergraduate level teaching of writing should contact Mary Pull, Director of the Undergraduate Center for Writers (Tel: 701-231-7928).

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